Speaking to an applauding Kendall audience of more than 150 on Sept. 10, Miami-Dade Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho delivered an impassioned plea for passage of a $1.2 billion bond referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“This is the first community meeting of many I expect to attend over the next six weeks,” Carvalho told a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) full house in the Kendall Village Center’s civic pavilion.
With that in mind, the Miami-Dade school administrator said he would use key dates to dramatize future remarks prior to voting, including: “Mar. 2, 2010, when a school roof at North Bay Village collapsed because of deterioration.
“Plus eight years of the Eisenhower administration when 50 percent of Miami-Dade’s still-utilized schools were built, with 40 percent still in operation today.”
Many classrooms in the district’s 345 schools operate with outdated projectors under leaking roofs with peeling wall paint with at least a half-dozen identified within Kendall’s sprawling suburban landscape.
Those type of statements are the verbal ammunition Carvalho hopes to use to gain support for the school board-approved referendum that will “bring our schools up to the level companies look for when they are looking to relocate,” he pointed out.
Two other points favoring passage in 2012: interest rates at 4 percent (“as low as you may ever find again”) and reduced construction costs in a still-recessive economy gained through an early start for renovations.
“The proposed cost over a 30-year period would have minimal impact of just $5 annually for each $100,000 of taxable property value in the first year,” he said.
“An average of $27 annually per $100,000 of taxable property is based on projections during the full term of the bond issue.”
Outweighing any cost factors is the creation of 9,200 jobs to help the county’s moribund construction industry during the first three years of bond money expenditures, with more than 18,000 sustainable jobs during the full 30-year term.
Other key “selling points” Carvalho listed included safety and security of school buildings, upgrades of equipment, and guaranteeing equitable technology across all schools, watch-dogged for transparency by citizen and oversight committees.
Should the bond issue fail, Carvalho said he would be forced to ask for funds through increased taxes within one to two years’ time.
“Should that happen, I would ask to be relieved of my position because I would have failed to get the proper financing in place through this long-term bonding issue,” he pledged. “That is how strongly I feel about it,” he added before fielding a short question and answer session. Concerned about using the private sectors as vendors (instead of school board employees), West Kendall’s Martha Backer said she wanted to make sure all were properly vetted for security, which Carvalho assured would be the case.
The few citizen comments were almost entirely laudatory.
Former KFHA president Lee Zimmerman began by saying, “After all you have done for this community, I just wish you’d run for office.”
After conclusion of his remarks, Carvalho, who had visited KFHA over five years ago as an administrator to a former superintendent, was congratulated by more than a dozen listeners who pledged support of what he termed “building a pathway to the future.”
For more details on the bond issue, visit www.dadeschools.net